Perfect

I went to a birthday party, not so long ago. It was not the usual birthday party. I needed to go because it was the brother of my childhood friend. He is a person with an intellectual disability, and I have known him for my whole lifetime. Or better to say he has known me all my life as he is much older than me. He turned fifty one that day. So, I brought him stuff you would bring to a man of that age you consider almost your relative. But for him, usually ignored and neglected that day was something to look forward throughout the year. The only day when he is the centre of attention.

There is also this thing about my friend, his sister. Her life didn’t go as planned, and at some point, she decided to be a single mom. Her girl is now fifteen. She made her decision in a small community in the province of a traditional country where every behaviour is okay if it is under the cloak of marriage. She suffered slander, but she laughed it off, carelessly. That is her. Their elder brother also had an unplanned life. He is brilliant and capable, a fighter. He has someone now, and he is happy, but he wanted a family.

There is more, and that is us, imperfect people, insufficient, people with shattered dreams due to harsh circumstances and a decision or two, like one of those decisions to follow your gut or what seems right at a cost.

And then, again there are perfect people. I’ve met them in the province, the petit-bourgeoisie type. Of course, I remember where some of them came from and how they were coming to my doorstep to seek refuge in my stable family life from their shattered existence. That is the truth of some, not all, but you can guess what I am aiming at, these are the people who get to hide their weaknesses or whose weaknesses are proper and socially acceptable in some settings. Those are people who, when they can’t hide their loss, they turn it into battle won and- everything is perfect again. They can’t lose to illness, to poverty, everything happens to someone else.

I met them from that pathetic province where I was born, a small town that could be thriving with a different mindset to gala dinners and receptions in five-star hotels abroad. No matter their level of achievement, they are so remarkably similar. So perfect. They never have anything that is bothering them, let alone a reason to worry.

I’ve been behind the scenery in some cases, as above mentioned but my point is I felt safe with my imperfect friends, cosy, at home, myself. Just as I feel writing this blog. At some point, the person that perfect people call a “retard” the one that had a birthday asked me a question: “Why am I not like other people?” I said I am not like other people as well.

One thing is amazing here, he is more self-aware than perfect people. Very much so. They hate their facade being questioned and defending it is a matter of life and death. They believe the web of lies they present to the world. This was a topic for many artists and people of science. It is real. Just not for perfect people. Remember it just in case someone perfect tries to put you down for being who you are.

What To Do?

It’s been a while since I’ve last written on the BPW blog…at least it feels like it’s been a while. Memory is still pretty bad, but cognative function is slowly returning. I’m not excited that it’s returning, because not only did I get used to having no memory, it was actually comforting to have forgotten all the bad without trying. Lately, I feel like I’ve been in a slump. I’ve got a full time job now, so I’m back to work. It isn’t rewarding, but it’s a paycheck, which I desperately needed. I know that “normal” life is a lot of feeling whatever, then short bursts of happiness or sadness. It’s just weird for me, because I felt like I was at the top of the world during my treatment, or rather when the depression finally lifted. Now though, I’m getting used to the feeling of “normal” which isn’t a good or a bad, it’s just kinda blasé. It feels eerily familiar to the numbness of depression, but fundamentally different. It is a little worrisome, obviously, as I never want to go back to being depressed.

The question now is what the hell do I do with my life? I mean, I work 40 hours a week, like almost everyone else in America. But like, my hobbies have suspiciously vanished, my friends are, well, there, but living their own lives too. And I don’t want to cut in on that. I don’t want them to feel like I’m forcing them to make time for me. Y’know? I guess it’s just a part of getting older…people focus more on their careers and romantic relationships, and friendships kinda just sink to the wayside. I know it sounds like my friends are terrible friends, or maybe that I’m a terrible friend, but two of my dear friends, we have an understanding. We can not see eachother for months, then pick it right back up when we do see eachother, like there was no time in between. It’s actually a great style of relationship to me, because it’s very low maintenance, but offers all the benefits of a close friendship. Back to the point, I just don’t know what to do with my life now that I’m not depressed. I mean I can clean, and do chores and such, but my physical pain (slipped disk in my back) still limits me severely. I also want to do something I enjoy, y’know, something that brings me joy. It’s funny, because I’ve never thought of things like that before. Everything I did during my depression, was simply to get my mind away from the suicidal thoughts. Now that I actually want to live life, and bring myself joy and fulfillment, I’m at a loss. I enjoy writing, as you can probably imagine, but I can’t just lay in bed and write my time away. Writing is therapeutic for me, but also can be a source of stress, so it’s a fine balancing act. So I don’t really know what to do? I mean, I want to date again, but my social anxiety is still out of control, especially in romantic situations. I’m on many, if not all, the dating apps, but I don’t really just fire off messages, because not only could that be annoying to the girl, but the effort I put in to messages, and then to receive no response is saddening to say the least. So I don’t really spend too much time on dating apps, plus I may be old fashioned, but I like to meet people in person, develop a platonic relationship, before moving on to romance. So, what do I do with my free time? I am actually looking for answers, so if you have recommendations, let me know. Also, is this sort of weird middle area of emotions just life? Or what? I don’t know…maybe I’m just over analyzing. Let me know, please?

Off My Chest

So, as you can probably tell, this is not going to be like my usual posts. My brain has returned to its normal, insanely fast pace. I of course didn’t really do anything positive to help myself. I watched some of the saddest music videos I could find. Of course, you know that I believe music to be one of the most powerful things that humans have ever created. A single certain song can make or break your whole day. Today, the song that set my spiral was 1-800-273-8255 by Logic. You may or may not know that that’s actually the number to the National Suicide Hotline. And of course, it has a very sad music video, and very sad lyrics. I found myself sobbing at the end, and went on my usual depressive train…I am not proud of myself, because I worked so hard to become not depressed, and here I am, willingly slipping back into it. Granted, this is not my old clinical depression, this is simply situational depression. Yet, that doesn’t make it suck any less, and that doesn’t make it less terrifying to me.

What I have to get off my chest, is the two main reasons that I wanted to die while I was depressed. These may sound like small problems to you, but to me, they meant everything.

The first reason I wanted to die, is that I am a empath. See, sounds trivial, but let me explain. You see, when I see, or hear about people struggling, with anything, my depression deepens because I cannot help them. It really all stems from the phrase, “You can’t save everyone”. That single phrase kills me inside. There are things going on in peoples life that makes them suicidal. Or maybe you were/are like me, and you’re suicidal for no reason, all the time. You know, now that I think about it, I probably should have started with reason two, because they are rather intertwined. The second reason I wanted to die, is the world f*cking sucks. There are such injustices in the world, slavery, oppression, corporations pushing products down our throats. I like to think that I’m what the kids call “woke” in that I see everything wrong with the world. Yet, I’m only one person. I can’t fix the worlds problems. You see how the two problems are intertwined? It hurts me to my core that there are so many problems in the world, and I can’t fix any of them. I can’t save everyone, nor should I. But that’s where my empathy takes control of my mind. I so badly want people just to love each other, and love themselves. So, I started blogging to help with my own issues, and I really wanted to help as many people as I could reach. The internet is a wild thing, we are all connected now, literally. How can I focus on myself, when there are so many problems in this world. Now, I have to stop myself from thinking like this, because it will drive me deep back into depression, and I cant go back, I won’t.

For real though, like what the actual f*ck is hate? Why do some people hate other based on their skin color, gender, sexuality, whatever. It pisses me off. It pisses me off even more that I used to hate people based on things they couldn’t control. Yet, the wealthy and greedy all only care about money or power, or both. I mean, we could cure cancer, but do you know why we won’t? There is more money to be made treating the disease than curing it. That’s f*cked isn’t it?! Why the actual f*ck is there a market for child sex? Like WTF is wrong with people? Why do corporations continue to destroy the planet, and then blame our individual actions? Like me using a plastic straw is worse than dumping millions of gallons of trash into the ocean. This world is just full of such bullsh*t, and I couldn’t stand it. That’s why I wanted to die. The rich and powerful continue to trick the rest of us, making us think we can change things. But as soon as we affect their bottom line, it gets swept under the rug.

I am terrified to have kids, because I KNOW that I won’t be able to leave the world a better place for him/her/them. And I’m just supposed to live my best life, while turning a blind eye to all this? How the heck can I do that? I so desperately want to live a normal, not even happy, just like baseline, life. These thoughts though, it is a real struggle. Now don’t get me wrong, there is true beauty in the world. I want to be able to focus on the good in life, I think that’s the only way I’ll make it, but I don’t know if I can. I need hope. It’s as simple as that. ECT did treat, and probably, cure my med resistant depression. But without hope, I don’t see my life changing all that much. Please. Whatever you do, just love yourself, love others, let’s make this world a place suitable for our children, our children’s children. Let’s just live and love life. Please.

Depression Over the Ages

It’s a funny thing, depression. One of the loneliest conditions a person can experience, it’s nonetheless felt by millions upon millions of people the world over. And yet, despite being so prevalent, no two people experience it quite the same, even though the outcomes are so often similar.

When I first succumbed to the onslaught of depression in the early 2000s, there wasn’t a whole lot for me to know about it. I felt miserable, I wanted to sleep all day, I hated myself and my life, and daydreamed of death virtually non-stop. It was a distinctly personal experience, and one that I had trouble sharing with … well, anyone.

You see, the advent of easy global communication was still a year or two away, and in the beginning, there was just myself and my friends at school. My friends at school didn’t really understand depression – even with my closest friend, Jen, who I know suffered as I did, I struggled to communicate the depth of despair and self-loathing I felt every day.

The funny thing about misery, though, is that it loves company. I eventually found myself on AOL chat rooms and other instant messaging platforms, and suddenly a world was opened up to me – a world of dark, dangerous, depressed people who felt just the way I did (and some of them were even worse). For the first time in my life, I truly realized I wasn’t alone, and although I never met any of these chat people in real life, my online presence became my life. I would count the breaths until I could sign on again to talk to my dark, gothic friends.

These ability to communicate thoughts and feelings was, in some ways, a saving grace. Without it, I would have been truly alone, and I don’t know how long I could have survived in such a state. I have little doubt I would have killed myself.

Before this, though – before people could easily communicate – what did depressed people do? How did they let out their frustrations, vent their feelings, and cope with the voice in their head telling them they would be better off dead?

I mean, depression isn’t exactly a new phenomenon; famous figures throughout history have notably suffered, including Tchaikovsky, Churchill, and Cobain. As public figures, of course – and as artists – they had some form of outlet, but what about the countless ‘little’ people, the ones with no outlet, no forum, and no way of telling the world that they aren’t happy? What of all those lonely souls throughout history?

Whilst depression may not have changed in a million years, our reaction to it certainly has. Even though it’s still considered taboo in some circles to discuss mental illness at all, the fact that it can be discussed is, in itself, a revelation. I came across a post the other day on Reddit about a young girl who was contemplating killing herself. It was a heartbreaking read, but what made it bearable was the fact that, without hours, there were literally hundreds of comments in support of her and her experience – hundreds of people who reached out through the anonymity of the internet to try and help her through this difficult moment.

I’m not saying that people who suffer from depression are in a better place now than in the past; the disease is powerful, and can make lonely the most outgoing of people in a heartbeat. But what we do have now, that we never had before, is a forum through which to discuss our suffering. A place we can go to learn from others, and share our experiences. And whether that’s on Reddit, Twitter, or right here on WordPress, there is a world of loving and caring individuals out there who are willing and waiting to hear what you have to say.

So don’t be lonely, and don’t be a stranger; reach out. Someone will answer.

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Safe Space

She often contemplates

Of a distant life

One without strife

Curious of where she hide

When all is chaotic inside

She fears her safe space mimicks pandora’s box

It lies hidden beneath her surface

Unlike a treasure chest

Not meant to be discovered

For this space holds secrets

Most of which permeate

And she, unaware

Emerging,

Protected,

without a care

Not daring to question

who’s secrets live there

She abandons that space

A place

Within her, she fears

One of mystery

of forgotten years

She gazes beyond it’s contents

With aspirations of inner peace

Never to unleash

The savage beast

Societal Genocide

A society screaming for acceptance

Sits judging the alcoholic mom

Religious people condemn others to hell

As Priests rape innocent,

God-fearing boys

Promoting originality and authenticity

Forgetting to disclose an addiction to prescription pain pills

Chanting for equal rights

Gripping your purse

if a black man is in sight

Turning your back

And closing our eyes

Does nothing for the abused elderly

Strangers criticize the strengths of others,

Hidden behind a monitor

A system too blind to see

an orphan being sexually abused,

Until his terrorist attack

appears on the news

A mothers pain heard

finding her son on the floor

dead

A needle in his arm

A Nation arrogant,

Full of pride

Pride.

Homosexual pride

Ashamed,

Forced to hide

We’ve adopted this societal genocide

R.O.E.

It’s Time I Fly

Persistent I focus on growth,

you cannot help but complain.

Much of my life, it’s been the same.

Never enough

Or the wrong time,

Too much,

too soon.

You find the most inopportune moments as if you are searching for a clue.

Mysteriously problems arise,

My fault, in your eyes.

Chastise me as your child,

In which I am.

Except I am grown.

Stifling my creativity

learning

it’s my time to go.

No pointing fingers but is it because of you my inner child refuses to grow?

Pushing her down to size with every no.

There’s this fire pleading from inside.

Tired of being shoved,

made to hide.

Grappling with confusion

your love is no illusion,

yet toxic,

chaining me to who I long to un-become.

It isn’t my will to be done.

Stepping out of my own way,

I am being shown the sun.

All the possibilities frighten any notion of me not by your side.

I deserve a sense of pride.

It’s time you let me off this ride.

Mom,

please set me free so I can learn to be me.

You accomplished fixing me the most you could.

But the time has come,

As I knew it would.

And now I go

with one foot in front of the other,

discovering myself

on this long, desolate road.

You did your best and it has come time

I do the rest.

Guided by your wisdom,

I must leave the nest.

Rural Mental Health 911

There I was, minding my own mental health business when someone I know (read my husband of the last 20 years who is growing on me) suggested I travel with him through rural South Africa.  He is doing a review on the state of rural health, whether there are sufficient doctors, nurses and other necessary stuff for health to be delivered in a context where everyone – let alone people with mental health challenges – are vulnerable.  At first I wondered why on earth he would want me, the multiple mental illness disordered someone to travel with him, as I’m not really the kind of gal you can take pretty much anywhere (and who has consistent unreasonable demands that cannot be met).  For example, I was completely outraged that they did not have a cappucino (extra shot of espresso with cream) at a petrol station in the very rural parts of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.  I mean honestly, rural health is a challenge, but no proper coffee?  This could lead to war and I am the most concerned for these coffee poor people. Anyone with mental illness within a 500 km radius is clearly suffering – if you can’t get over your pill hangover with proper coffee what can you do??

More seriously what struck me was a number of stark, non mental health friendly realities that exist in this environment.   Firstly (in no order of priority):  everything is FAR (like really far) and that means that healthcare (regardless of the reason) is difficult if not impossible to access.  If I think about the times that I needed to go to hospital, urgently (cryingly / psychotically etc) needed to see my psychiatrist / psychologist, the mind boggles at how you would access these kinds of services in rural areas in Africa when you are EXTREMELY vulnerable. Second:  I know for a fact (and it’s confirmed by research) that mental health / illness awareness is low if non-existent.  Coupled with this, as we all know, there are also many mental illnesses where insight into your own illness is low (and most likely to be some of the most severe illnesses).  Thirdly:  even when you know you’ve I dunno, felt sad and manic your whole life, and would like treatment, you are likely to be made to feel worse by way of reception from your local family / community / health workers (or all of the above) whom you may or may not be able to access after travelling loads of km’s with money or food that is in very, very short supply.

And then my personal favourite:  let’s assume you’ve been able to jump all these hurdles: if you need to be hospitalised, a “bed” is usually on a first come about to die basis, so if you’re not in the act of death and / or dying there usually isn’t a bed,  an actual psychiatrist on call, or available, approriate medication to treat you with what is often considered to be a rather minor, made-up ailment.   I have personally been told on admitting that I was suicidal and needed hospitalisation that I should come back later.  Insert witty comment here, as I have no words.  This was certainly my experience in urban areas, so I imagine that in rural areas, this must be very, very much worse.  Added to this, Emergency Medical Services in the Province has been known to go on STRIKE.  Yes.  All available ambulances were on a um, go slow.

If I lived here, I would participate in the strike and my own mental health by asking them to put me out to pasture with the cows, and hope that I be struck with lightening as a manner to reset my clearly broken brain and body.  Better than waking up without coffee, to have to walk / hike far to a facility that would be too full, or to be “turned away” by an ambulance that wasn’t working that day.  Am I making fun of this situation?  What would I suggest in this deplorable state of affairs?  I really don’t know.  I don’t know how many people with mental illness live here, what they need, and how we can help and make sure that things change.  After all – we live in the country with one of the most enabling constitutions in the whole world – and further rights that are enshrined in our bill of rights.  Unfortunately though – in the past couple of days, I have seen that this means very little if anything – to people who don’t even have their basic human rights respected, let alone access to health.  We need help, we need to make a noise, and not stop until it changes.  And YOU need to be part of it. African Mental Health Matters Too!  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

Thin

I feel it

It is trying to lure me in

Singing its melody

Like charming a snake

Wrapping me in a warm coddle

Promising to protect

Never to neglect

Except.

.

Washing aside egotistical pride

Burrowing

Nestling

Within

Refusing a grin

Dare I let depression

Win?

?

It’s an unfair battle

I become reliant

Forget defiant

It’s familiarity encompasses

My being

A scab repeatedly opened

Never quite to heal

Do I give in

And kneel?

.

.

The persistence penetrates

Wearing down the thin

Weak barrier

Forever inferior.

Taking on this Giant

The one not to be tamed

Bowing out

No longer can I refrain.

Meant to Be

For his attention

She fight

Without his approval

Her dreams would not catch flight

Self-sabotaging rendered her insane

Poison flowed through her veins

Risking a life she could not love

Losing faith of anyone above

A father who belittled his daughter

Confusing her was the pain

She sought in others a fragile love

The one missing from within

Disposing of men

Forbidden sin

He set an example forever ingrained

Love equals pain

The rejection of his affection left her exposed

Substance she snorts up her nose

Numbing the pain

Heartbreak upon heartbreak she gain

A constant battle with her brain

A destiny to heal her heart

Finding herself falling apart

She doesn’t know where to start

Forgiveness is key

In being set free

And unlocking who she is meant to be